White House Rumble is a boxing game with a political twist. Well, not really. Political figures are mocked, but this is not really about politics, it’s about making fun and having fun. Especially if you’re mad at someone. Especially if you’re mad at politicians. Who isn’t?
We all have seen boxing games before: certain combinations of buttons let you deliver high and low punches, block the opponent’s punches and, in this case, dodge left or right. White House Rumble is nothing new really as a boxing game, so it compensates that a little with humor. All opponents are prominent political figures in caricature, and the game is very good at that. They are all instantly recognizable and definitely funny. Magmic’s games are all going for under $10, and I think this one should be worth the price just for the laughs. Seriously, I had fits of laughter with this game and, if I worked in an office full of workmates, I would go around showing this to everyone. Rudy and Hillary are outrageously funny. The reason I am not posting a lot of screenshots is that I don’t want to spoil any surprises. Enough to give you a few pics of Cheney right after he dropped his shotgun and hit his gloves together looking at me like a madman.
How much fun is left if you don’t have a sense of humor? Well, some. The problem with every fight game I’ve ever seen is that the fighters are not that smart. There is a surefire formula to win every one of them, the only question is how long it will take you to figure out the next one’s. That certainly applies to White House Rumble. Each opponent has their own fighting style and each bout is more difficult than the previous one. Bush, for example, is very good at dodging, hitting him was no easy task. Obama prances and jabs like an eighteen-year-old. You get the picture. Every one of them seems to have some very specific weakness. I am terrible at that kind of game, I usually press buttons pretty much at random and hope some of them will work. But if you have good coordination, you can actually “box”, i.e. combine blows with blocks and dodges etc. and leverage those weaknesses a lot better.
Good coordination is more than a requirement since the Blackberry has such a tiny and crammed keyboard. I think the controls of White House Rumble are too close together: 4, 5, 6, 2, 8 and Space. Space shoots a super punch that is not available all the time. You have to “earn” it. A very mnemonic choice of keys, but hard to use in practice. I think we should be able to configure our own keys. Another concern that I had was about damaging the keyboard. The characters fight on screen, but the keyboard is the one taking a real beating. Maybe it’s just the dumb way that I play, but maybe you should be careful with that too.
There are two game modes: Circuit, sort of a tournament, and Challenge, where you get to fight the opponents individually under certain special rules. There is no multiplayer mode, you just challenge the software. Like I said, the fighters are not particularly smart, but beating them still takes some skill and patience. As I write this, I am still unable to beat one of them.
I thought this game wouldn’t last long. I uninstalled it after three days. But then, another three days later, I installed it again and had yet some more fun with it. I had to learn how to beat every opponent I had beaten before all over again. It is good fun. Certainly a bit limited, but not enough to ruin it. It is a good quick pastime, suited to those moments when you just want to kill some 5 or 10 minutes, unlike Bookworm, that is supposed to take hours. White House Rumble is not quite my kind of game, actually. But it is probably good enough to fans of boxing games.
Pros: very funny; good gameplay.
Cons: not very challenging; not very adequate control keys.